Late Summer Evening

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Thanks to Vincent van Zalinge @vincentvanzalinge for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/CchPqypO8nE

The backyard has been a minefield of mud for the entire spring and summer months. The contractor we hired the end of April has used very excuse you can imagine as to why the work wasn’t complete.

As a teacher, I have heard many an excuse in my day as to why work wasn’t finished, why books weren’t brought to class, and why one child needed to insult another child. Often I have reminded students to simply stand tall and own their truth, even if they think they might “get in trouble” for it.

In my own life I have found that honest self reflection leads to growth.

Unfortunately, this contractor wasn’t interested in self reflection or growth. He was a poor communicator and gave excuses instead of owning his truth. Nearly four months later, he finally poured our patio. All the roots still aren’t trimmed around the edges of the patio, and the attention to finish details simply aren’t anywhere to be seen there, but we have a poured patio.

For now this is enough.

After the concrete patio was set, we hired these young men (with better communication skills, respect, and follow through than the older contractor) to build the gazebo kit we bought. They communicated clearly the dates they were available (all within the week’s time) and showed up right on time. When they finished there wasn’t so much as a scrap of paper lying about the yard. The job was finished above and beyond our expectations.
The work ethic and follow through of these young men restored my hope in builders.

Tonight Trace, Ev, and I sat out on the patio with our dear friend Jen, listening to the thrum of cicadas and watching the dragonflies dance in the evening sky.

Peaceful rest is what Jen called it, and I quite agree.

In those moments, I rediscovered my muse; it was the magic of the late summer garden at sunset.

Late Summer

Swarming dragonflies,
honking geese heading south—
they left me wondering how
the summer waned into fall
without word or warning.
All I did was blink.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Fireflies and Summer Skies

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Photo Credit: Thank you and shoutout to toan phan.
Fireflies

Every evening
as the sun dips
low in the horizon
a calm settles.

Fireflies blink
in dusky
summer skies
while the fire crackles

and laughter
breaks into the night.
If I am brave
and open my widening

eyes to see
into the falling
darkness, I can
picture tomorrow

I can dream
I can feel hope
rising in
my bones—

the kind
of hope
that speaks truth
but lives dreams.

Every evening
as the fireflies dance,
if you know how
to listen for the whispers

of tomorrow,
you can tell yourself
who you want
to become.

—Carla Picklo Jordan

Hostage

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Photo Credit: My dreary backyard
Hostage

The weather
is holding me
hostage;
I’m afraid
I will never recover.

Every summer
it seems
to be something—
slip and fall
pneumonia
broken ribs.

Now this year,
it’s raining
it’s pouring
it’s a muddy mess.

It’s a treeless swamp
where once stood
my beautiful maple
and my favorite
swivel rocker.

Oh Mr. Sun, Sun
Mr. Golden Sun
please shine down
on me.

—by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Yes, I know at least the pool has been installed, but no patio yet, no air yet (tomorrow, hopefully), and no sun…

We’ll talk tomorrow after the air-conditioning is installed.

Oma

Photo Credit: Thanks to CDC @cdc for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/F98Mv9O6LfI
Oma

She smelled of lilacs,
Baby Magic lotion,
and summer-misted air—
cool as the color
of her snow white hair.

Every summer
we looked for miracles
and found them everywhere—
seed to bud to flower,
violets blooming purple.

Write hope on your heart
meine liebchen—she whispered
as we worked side by side—
write hope over fear.
Get lost in wonder.

—by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Heatwave

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Photo Credit: Thanks and shoutout to Bryan Hanson 

I’ve been taking some time to regroup after a grueling year and a half-is of teaching. I didn’t think relaxing would be as hard as it has been. I don’t think I realized just how taxing a year of virtual work and life was until I started to slow down.

Given that Trace needed her spinal fusion immediately, her recovery has been our primary concern this summer. We had already booked plans to head down south and camp in Laurel, Mississippi, navigating our way down to Folly Beach and maybe even New Orleans, but we had to cancel all those plans to concentrate on things closer to home.

We found out in the early spring that our beautiful big red maple was causing foundation damage to our home, so out it had to come. This meant tearing up our beautiful wood deck out back. But we had to do what we had to do, so I decided if the deck was getting ripped out anyway that we would replace it with concrete. We would enjoy our summer vacation from the luxury of our own new patio. Win-win!

With the hope that all construction work would be done by the beginning of June, we ripped out the deck and threw tarps down so the dogs could still use the backyard. Well, those of you near us know the massive amounts of torrential rain coupled with brutal heat we have had this summer. Now the back yard is one muddy lake and the dogs have to be walked on leash out in the front in order for them to take care of their business.

And the construction work has yet to begin.

Except now we have an excavator taller than our house in the backyard and the contractor is heading off to vacation next week.

Sigh.

My poem today is in honor of the tiny gold finch bathing in the mud lake that is now our backyard, the late great Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and staycations.

Heatwave

Summer came on steamy winds of spring
the torrid heat belied the month of June;

summer storms raged like May shower
bombs of heat detonating in waves.

All that remained come muggy morning
was the mucky mess of mud called garden

and one tiny goldfinch preening in a puddle
making me wish I had been born a bird instead.

--Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

A Septet of Lines

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Photo Credit: Shoutout to Annie Spratt on social.

The poetry challenge I place before you today this: I’d love for you to try writing a lune.

A lune is a sort of English-language haiku. While the haiku is a three-line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable count, the lune has two different options.

The first option for a lune is a three-line poem with a 5-3-5 syllable count. The second variant is based on word-count instead of syllable count. This means the poem still has three lines, but the first line has five words, the second line has three words, and the third line has five words again.

I chose this latter form to write my poem. Today I give you a Septet of Lunes. Try your hand at it and share it in the comments. I look forward to reading your take on the lune.

dinner on the deck

the cardinals always come--
strutting red coats,
snapping seeds in a single crunch.

the dark eyed junco hops
tentatively to feed,
nervously glancing side to side

the chickadees flit over lightly
with great decorum
landing lightly on the feeder.

sparrows hide in the bushes
waiting their turn,
hanging out in patient packs.

the house finch dines together
with the others--
sparrows, chickadee, cardinal and junco.

when the blue jay plows
in to feed,
the sea of birds part;

but the noisy starlings arrival
clears everyone out--
iridescent bullies chasing away friends.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

The Beech Tree

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Photo Credit: Photo by Richard Loader on Unsplash

Earlier this spring, we discovered that our beautiful red maple tree had finally gotten so large that its roots were encroaching on the foundation of the house. In fact, those determined roots had begun to push their way into any cracks or crevices they found, pushing aside mortar and widening cracks in the cement blocks.

Just thinking about cutting down that tree grieved my spirit.

Last summer, I spent many a summer afternoon laying on the deck furniture and watching the sky through the lacy red curtains of leaves. I wrote poetry there, I sang songs, and told stories. Cutting down the tree felt like cutting down a piece of our family history.

But when the foundation expert came and confirmed that if we didn’t cut down the tree, we would suffer irreparable damage to our home’s foundation that would cost thousands to repair, I knew it was time.

We have done all the preparation now–taking up the back deck, removing all the landscaping rocks, resituating other plants and flowers. The backyard seems so barren. My solace has been looking up potential replacement trees, shrubbery, and flowers.

In my research, I discovered some lovely facts about beech trees. I wish I had the space to plant one in our garden, but I’m afraid I would end up in the same predicament I am in now as beech trees grow in groves and 60-80 feet tall.

After watching this video of a beech tree unfolding, this poem was born.

Life begins with planting.

The Beech Tree

The process begins
with planting,
always with planting,
then tending
and harvesting—
nothing neglected,
everything perfected
in its time.

The work is slow and tedious;
the work requires patience—

like the building
of a leaf
first with vernation—
leaves folded
packed tightly
intricately engineered
inside a tiny bud.

Then at the first hint
of summery sun,
the magical unfurling
of beech leaves
baptizing the garden
in spring green.

Finally plucking
the tender leaves—
sweet-sour taste
hitting the tongue—
a portent of spring.

The beech tree announces
the end of Blackberry winter
and it all began
with planting a seed.

—a draft by Carla Picklo Jordan

What are your favorite landscaping greens (or reds or yellows or golds)?

The Hummingbird

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Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@candiscamera2019

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” —Vincent Van Gogh

I am working hard to find the beauty in everyday life, but it isn’t always an easy task. Sometimes life is just hard. Or discouraging. Or dangerous, or disastrous.

So I am grateful to my friend the hummingbird who reminds me to drink in each moment.

the hummingbird

the hummingbird comes
to our little red feeder
feasting on nectar
from plastic flowers,

sipping sweet juice
through her straw-like beak.
never sitting still,
yet present —

cyclic and reliable
as the seasons —
she reminds me
to drink in beauty.

-a Draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

What reminds you to be still and enjoy each moment?